Monday, January 26, 2015

Saying No to Okra

One vegetable that my family used to grow in our large gardens is okra.  My parents loved it, but to me and my siblings it was the epitome of a slimy, not-so-great-tasting, green vegetable.  Mama taught us to give everything a try, so we dutifully tried it...and our opinions remained steadfast.  My dearest papa has a policy that no one has to eat anything he or she doesn't like, so we were spared from eating okra and taught a life lesson I'll never forget.
Wiki Creative Commons
"Children," Papa said, "What if a neighbor walks up to your door with a big box full of okra and says, 'Hi, I have some extra okra from my garden, and I thought I'd bring some over for you!'  Would you respond, 'Oh, thank you so much!  I'll just love this!' and take it just to make your neighbor happy?  No!'"

Your neighbor is being kind and thoughtful, but you don't have to make yourself a hypocrite and end up stuck with a box full of okra.  If you're gently honest and say no thank you, he can give the okra to someone else who might really appreciate it.

Throughout life you will find that there are certain things people expect you to do, maybe because it's the norm, maybe because everyone else in your circle is doing it.  That doesn't necessarily make it the right thing for you.  The most ridiculous reason I've ever been given for why I should do something was, "So-and-so does it."

1 Corinthians 7:23 says, "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."  You have no obligation to do what other people expect of you.  Your obligation in life is first of all to your Creator; do what Jesus wants you to do in life.

If the whole world loves okra, who cares?  Good for them, and good for you if you enjoy it.  It's very healthful and nutritious, and I'm happy to see others appreciate it.  I'll even cook it for you if you like, and who knows, perhaps I'll like it when I'm older.  But for now, I don't like okra, and I don't plan to eat it to please anyone--my best friend, the President of the United States, or the Queen of England.

"If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time,
and you would achieve nothing.” --Margaret Thatcher

94 comments:

  1. Hi Bethany
    I have never been too crazy about okra, either.
    Great story about the okra ...
    I think 'your papa' is a great teacher.
    That is a great quote from Margaret Thatcher

    See you when I get back from my trip
    Till then, take care and be well ...

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  2. I'm with you on this one - although I have eaten (and enjoyed) it as a part of a vegetable curry in India - it was about the cheapest meal you could buy, and I was a penny-pinching back-packer!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. Your adventures in India sound fascinating!

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  3. Good underlying point to your post today, it's way too easy to just say yes.
    I despise boiled okra but southern FRIED okra is amazing!

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    1. Thanks Tori! I'm reminded of a story my mother told me about a missionary friend who was served a food that, in the culture of the country where she was, was considered a delicacy. She didn't like it, so she only ate a little. As a result, she had to eat the left-overs the next day--and the next. Finally she decided to get it over with and eat it all. The natives saw her eat it all, and said, "Oh, she likes it so much!" So they made a new batch for her the next day. Saying "yes" once may seem easy, but it often has undesired consequences! :)

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    2. Your missionary story reminds me of another one. Missionaries to North Africa told us about how the national drink of their country was coffee with rancid butter. In this case they really did need to drink it because every time they were in people's homes they were served this drink, which at first nauseated them. They did not want to offend the people they wanted to win for Christ by refusing the hospitality. But after living there for some time they developed a taste for it and came to love it. This story stuck with me for 50 years, and while I've never needed to imitate this kind of graciousness, it has made me thankful that I am able to avoid almost all the time those foods I don't like. Thank you for sharing your father's lesson.

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    3. Thank you for the story! It takes a lot of love, self-control, and sometimes an iron stomach to be a missionary. I pray the Lord blesses those who take on the challenge.

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  4. I have to admit, I have never tried Okra, so I am not sure if I would like it.. Usually I will try something once just to see if I do like it.. Great quote from Margaret Thatcher! Have a happy Tuesday!

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    1. That is a good idea! Have a great day as well.

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  5. Your Papa sounds like a wise man!

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  6. Sorry you don't enjoy okra; I personally think it's all in the preparation whether it's palatable or not. Good point on the principle of the matter though.
    Have a great day!

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    1. For many people it probably is. I have tried it prepared a variety of ways, but have not liked any of them. Have a beautiful day as well!

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  7. We are kindred spirits, Bethany! I cannot stomach okra. At all. This is something my mom (and most mothers I knew as a kid) made regularly. They all insisted it was 'the best food'. I suppose for some people it is. As for me, I think it is a mutated green bean. And slimy is exactly the word I use to describe it!

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  8. honesty is best. :) i like it in certain soups, but otherwise, the only way to eat it is coated and fried and that's definitely not healthy. :)

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    1. Why can't all the good foods also be healthy? ;)

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  9. It looks a bit like what we call zucchini here.
    This okra vegetable, is not in the Netherlands I guess.

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    1. We have zucchini here as well, and it is much better than okra. I like it in breads and cakes.

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  10. Okra is almost as disgusting as oatmeal (a long story)...

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  11. I tried okra once, when we took a trip down south. Once was enough!

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    1. It does seem okra is a traditionally southern vegetable.

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  12. I have never eaten it!! I was raised in a home where you had to eat everything that was on your dinner plate, whether you liked it or not. We were not allowed to prepare our own plates. I was still at the dinner table at 9 pm many nights because I would not eat my peas. My parents were very strict!!

    I was much easier on my kids. They tried everything but prepared their own plates and only had to eat foods that they liked!!

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    1. Sounds like you are/were a good mother, Debbie! Your childhood sounds a lot like my papa's. He tells us about having to sit at the table all evening because he would not eat his peas. Grandma let everyone serve him/herself, but everyone had to have a little of everything. Since Papa went through that suffering, he didn't want his children to have to go through the same.

      Grandma's father served her plate when she was a little girl, and she had to eat everything that she was served (which was hard on her), that's why she let my papa serve himself--though he still had to try everything.

      In my family good parenting has been an evolving process, but I think my parents have nailed it.

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  13. I have never tried Okra, but I don't like to eat anything slimy.:( It was a good life lesson your father taught you,.. just be yourself. Margaret Thatcher's quote is a good one.

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  14. I actually like FRIED okra. :) Good points though. Being honest is a very important command that our generation has pushed aside!

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    1. Sometimes it *seems* easier to just go along or give excuses, but as Abraham Lincoln said, honesty really is the best policy.

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  15. Hello Bethany! You make a very good underlying point here! I like your papa's way of thinking...gently honest. We can do the same with anything that is asked of us. A need does not constitute a call...I love the Margaret Thatcher quote, also!

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  16. Your Papa's advice was very wise. I am not a fan of okra either but my husband enjoys it. I have some frozen okra but I have no idea how to prepare it. The last time I tried it was slimy and I thought I had ruined it, probably had, so I haven't cooked it in a very long time. It's time ot try again :)

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    1. Oooh...I'm inspiring someone to cook okra again!? What is the world coming to?
      **shocked and horrified expression**

      I wish you the best of success in your efforts! :)

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  17. Bethany I don't know what is it ? It is not popular in Europe definitely..

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    1. The wiki page on okra gives a description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okra

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  18. Very well said Bethany and great quote! I happen to be one of those who like okra ;)
    Blessings, Aimee

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    1. Blessings to you as well, Aimee! Enjoy the okra (and you can have my share too ;) ).

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  19. I have to agree with you on this-- okra isn't that great. I'm in the same boat as you!

    xoxo Morning

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  20. What a wonderful lesson Bethany and you are so right! My grandparents had a farm when I was growing up and always planted okra in their fields. I can remember having to pick it and how itchy it made me feel. I have terrible memories of being forced to eat okra as a child and still do not like it to this day!

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    1. The one thing I like about okra is the pretty blossoms. Sorry to hear you have such bad childhood memories about okra. Sometimes it takes great hardship for a person to see the light. If everyone went through what you did, they'd probably all convert to our side ;) .

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  21. No Okra for me either. well said post.

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    1. Thanks Felicia! We're kindred spirits in more ways than one. ;)

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  22. Ha! Kind of reminds me of the neighbors that have too much zucchini! :) Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

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    1. Haha! We have been the neighbors with too many vegetables before; thankfully for us, we usually have too much tomatoes or too many watermelons. It's not nearly as hard to find homes for them!

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  23. Well said! Your father is very wise. I was required to eat many foods that I did not like...over and over!

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    1. That's too bad. At least now you get to eat what you like! :)

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  24. Such a great post friend! You gave me a chuckle with your feelings about okra!!! And such an important message to pass on especially to kids when they are faced with peer pressure. Wishing you a wonderful week! Nicole xoxo

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    1. Thanks Nicole! Have an awesome week as well!

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  25. I'm not a fan of okra either... and I think your Papa gave you very good advice.

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  26. Well written post Bethany! And good quotes by Paul of Tarsus and Margaret Thatcher.

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  27. If the President showed up at my door with a box of okra, I'd look for explosives. LOL I do agree with your father, but there is a way to refuse it kindly and a way to refuse it bluntly. Practicing doing it kindly is worth one's time.

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    1. Very well said about using kindness. It's best to assume that those who try to give us okra are well-intentioned and thoughtful, and respond accordingly. :)

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  28. Fried Okra!!!! There is no better vegetable! I only wish I could eat it more often.
    Good quote!

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    1. I'm glad someone likes it. If you ever visit, I will happily give you my share. Thanks for commenting!

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  29. I'm with you. I never liked okra, either. It's slimy and it's gross.

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    1. Great minds think alike. ;)

      (No offense to okra-lovers!)

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  30. Hi Bethany, I just got the greatest smile out of this post. Young lady, you are wise beyond your years. I admire the way you tied the okra into a spiritual lesson we should all take to heart. Personally, I have to agree with you about okra in most of its forms. However, (said with a smile) I happen to love fried okra. Can't get enough of it and hard to find out here in the Pacific Northwest. I love the flavor when it's fried and, of course, the slime is not there. On the other hand, I am well aware that fried foods are not the best for me, health-wise. I am finding that your blog is one of the best I have found. One more thing ... I admire your respect for your parents. You are restoring my faith in the younger generations. (And there are several of those for me ... ha ha.) Take good care and thanks for sharing! John

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    1. Thank you for the very kind comment, John! Frying foods often does add an excellent flavor to them.

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  31. Hi Bethany! I like the lesson here. It's one we could all learn from. Conformity is a human condition that never made much sense to me :)

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    1. There's even a Bible verse against it! "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Sometimes it's good to be different.

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  32. Bethany,
    I haven't found a reliable and healthy way of cooking okra, in any school of cooking.
    But, I do like okra, cooked a certain way, which involves stir-frying it.
    I don't care too much for breaded & fried okra.
    Your post gave me the much needed comic relief :)

    Have a Beautiful Day!
    Peace :)

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    1. Stir-fries can often be wonderfully delicious; they're common in Asian cooking, so since I'm part Thai I've been fortunate enough to eat a few. If the okra were cut in small enough pieces that I couldn't see it, someone might be able to sneak it into a stir fry for me (but please, do not tell any cooks near me of this nefarious scheme!) Glad you found a way you like it! :) Have an awesome day, Chandra! Thanks for visiting

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  33. Lucky you to grow up with such a wise dad!

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    1. Agreed! I hope more parents follow in his example. If I ever have children, I will *never* force them to eat okra. ;)

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  34. I've never tasted okra. Now, I'm curious :) "Gently honest" is the expression that resonates most for me in this post. Words to live by, I think. The picture in my mind of you and your siblings growing up is a lovely one (not sure if you have brothers, but remember reading of two sisters). Olives are at the top of my "yucky taste" list (it's a short one). It would be painful to be forced to eat them. And, I'm lucky that, as the lone vegan among my family members and friends, I've never been made to feel awkward or guilty about that choice. All to say, I agree with your papa :)

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    1. I do have two sisters and one brother. Green olives, aren't on my list of favorites either...though I will take the black ones anytime. I'm glad your family and friends have accepted your choice to be a vegan. I have a dear close relative who is a vegetarian, and it's always so sweet and appreciated when hosts/hostesses take the time to make sure they serve at least some foods she can eat.

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  35. I'm not sure my comment went through since I forgot to click on the 'prove you're not a robot' box. :( If this is a duplicate, feel free to delete it.

    I am not a fan of okra. Tried it once and it was too slimy for my liking. I understand it is supposed to be a good thickener for soup. No matter, I don't plan on buying any. :D

    Your papa is a wise man, and that is a great quote by former P.M. Thatcher.

    Lindy

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    1. Thanks Lindy! Glad you won't be going out of your way to get okra. ;)

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  36. Hi Bethany, there are many vegetables I never liked. But I keep trying them because they are good for me. Most things I've come to enjoy. But I do agree that one should never do things just to please man. Your papa has taught you a wise lesson :-)

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    1. You are an example in self-control and perseverance, Joyful, and I hope your suffering continues to pays off for you. ;) Glad to hear that you've been able to come to enjoy most vegetables. Florence Ditlow once said, "Through enjoyment, we endure."

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  37. Replies
    1. Glad someone likes it! You can have my share ;)

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  38. I had never eaten okra until 1966 when I went to U of Georgia, never became a fan. Tom The Backroads Traveller

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  39. Fantastic post, Bethany! The most difficult thing to us was to instill in our daughter the sense that she should march to her own drummer (and to let the drummer be God), and we hope to also do so for our grandson. We were not faithful in our church attendance when our daughter was a pre-teen and teen, and in that we failed her and ourselves, but she never "followed the crowd" in any way. She's an independent spirit, and thankfully, a good Christian woman. Our grandson is barely 13, and has a world of temptations ahead of him, but he too has an independent spirit. He already speaks up for Christ and for his political beliefs and against things like evolution, when at school. I am proud of him, but know we have to stay in prayer!

    By the way, love fried okra....but you don't have to. More for me! :-)

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    1. Sounds like you did a good job raising your daughter, and she is doing a good job raising your grandson. Blessings to your family!

      Ah, yes! I will most gladly let you have my share of okra! :)

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  40. Hey Bethany! I'm new to your blog, but it's amazing. Especially that quote at the end, it's something I could definitely put into practice more in my life. This was a great post :)

    autumn
    autumnreadsandwritesallday.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Autumn! It's always a pleasure to meet a new blogging friend!

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  41. i agree with you 2,000% on okra...never gonna eat it again. my cousin tricked me into trying it when we were about 14-15 years old. he told me it was a new kind of french frie. ha! at the time a kentucky fried chicken in chicago was including it in their meals. last time was more than enough for me.

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    1. What a tricky cousin! I know the Bible says to forgive our enemies, but sometimes the hardest part is forgiving our friends! ;) Glad you survived that new type of French fries! :D

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  42. My parents also grew and liked okra while my opinion of it has always been more like you described. I like how your writing takes something ordinary and makes it interesting, then takes it a step farther to share valuable life lessons. Great quote by Margaret Thatcher as well.

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